In 1957, two years after his retirement, Winston Churchill gave several interviews for a series of film documentaries intended to accompany his six-volume book, The Second World War, which was largely responsible for his having been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.
A hugely ambitious project for its time, its progress was halted suddenly when construction works at the building which housed the production office in London uncovered an unexploded WWII bomb. The building was evacuated and a controlled detonation carried out, destroying much of the building in the process. Vital research material was destroyed in the explosion, including the interview footage. In a bitter twist of irony that was not lost on those concerned, Winston Churchill was finally silenced by a German bomb.
As a result, the project was abandoned, the crucial footage having been lost forever.
Or so it was thought.
In 2010, film reels containing the footage turned up in an unmarked box in a car boot sale in Nottingham. The buyer, Ronald Shoesmith, an amateur historian and film enthusiast, was shocked upon discovering what was on the reels for which he had paid just five english pounds, and caused a great deal of excitement when he contacted the esteemed Academy of Restoration, Storage and Exhibition in London to tell them of what had come into his possession.
Inquiries into the seller, Tom Logan, revealed that he was the grandson of the editor of the original footage, who had been killed in a car crash in Turkey only two days after the production office was destroyed. He had thankfully taken the precaution of making copies, a fact he tragically did not live to tell his colleagues. Mr Logan was completely unaware of what the reels contained, having discovered them whilst clearing out the attic of his late mother’s house.
The years had taken their toll on the film reels, poor storage conditions having caused them to deteriorate very badly. A delicate and painstaking restoration process was undertaken by a dedicated team of Academy archivists and technicians, who over four years have managed to return the footage to a near-pristine condition that far surpassed the limitations of the era in which it was shot.
These are the only known filmed interviews with Winston Churchill in existence, and provide a fascinating and often surprising insight; revealing much about the man behind the well-known public image.
He is characteristically rambunctious, irascible and unexpectedly candid; unflinching and unapologetic in his account of the part he played in some of the most turbulent times in human history. New light is shed upon key events and relationships in a highly eventful life, providing scholars with a great deal to pore over.
A wealth of details that were previously unknown that will inform, delight, frustrate and appall in equal measure. Here, for the first time, is the most complete and truthful account yet of the life and career of Winston Churchill.